David Banner is not happy. The rapper, who hails from Jackson, Mississippi, has been devoting much of his time to raising money for the people whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and he's a bit perturbed that the media has been less than supportive.
"It upset me because I felt like people should have seen more about it," he said backstage at the Vibe Awards (see "Mariah Wins Big, Mary J. Gets Emotional At Peaceful Vibe Awards"). "Now if I was beefing with somebody or shot somebody, it would be all over the marquee everywhere."
So far, Banner has become a true hometown hero, having raised more than $500,000 in funds for Gulf Coast relief with his nonprofit Heal the Hood Foundation, which aims to provide aid to the nation's poorest neighborhoods. He says he still receives calls frequently from folks wanting to offer donations, like 50 Cent and the G-Unit, who recently gave $30,000 worth of clothes to be handed out. Still, his efforts have received very little coverage.
"To be a young black male and be able to pull off something with 17 of the greatest [hip-hop] artists ever and then not really get the full [exposure] to really show other young black males what you can do for your own community, it was sort of blow," he explained.
Nelly, T.I., Busta Rhymes, Lil Jon, Young Jeezy and Teairra Marí were among the hip-hop elite who rallied together in the ATL for Banner's Heal the Hood Benefit Concert in September (see "David Banner Says He Has No Choice But To Heal The Hood" and "David Banner, Nelly, Busta Call On Atlanta Crowd To Heal The Hood"), and Banner says he has no plans to stop now.
"I plan on doing more benefits," the rapper said. "But one thing with me is I don't want to take advantage of artists who donate their time, because you have to understand that artists who are at the caliber of Nelly are donating a lot of money out of their pocket on top of how much it costs for them to donate a show. They could be somewhere else getting big paper, so I [don't want to] just use my organization to draw money from artists; I'm trying to find alternative ways, too."
The main reason Banner wanted to spearhead his own effort was so he could ensure that the funds would make it into the hands of those who need it most.
"I started Heal the Hood because I wanted to be in control of what happened to my people — and I can do it," Banner said. "As a young person who comes from a poor surrounding, every opportunity I get to stand in front of a camera, I'm gonna ask people not to forget about my people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and all of the places our people have to go to in order to seek shelter — and for me to come and represent those who have been forgotten about, it's a blessing."